Pakistan to go for advanced poliovirus diagnosis mechanism
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has decided to go for advanced mechanism to diagnose poliovirus and determine its area of origin.
Not only advanced machinery will be purchased but staff will also be trained in using it.
National Coordinator of the National Emergency Operation Centre for polio eradication Dr Rana Mohammad Safdar while talking to Dawn said diagnosis of poliovirus was increasingly becoming difficult as the virus has been decreasing in Pakistan.
Japan to provide $3.2m for procurement of new equipment
“On the other hand chances of transfer of virus from Afghanistan to Pakistan are very high because in 2018 not a single polio case was reported in Pakistan but in Afghanistan three cases were reported,” he said.
“Now time has come to do the genetic sequencing of the virus aimed at knowing the area of origin of virus and ascertain how it reaches Pakistan or shifts from one area of the country to another one,” he said.
Dr Safdar said that Japan, which has been supporting Pakistan since 1996, had decided to provide a grant of $3.2 million for procurement of new equipment and training of staff in using the machinery.
“In the past, only paralysed children were tested for the polio but now even healthy children of a vulnerable area will also undergo the same process. It will increase the load on the laboratory at the National Institute of Health (NIH) but new equipment will help speed up tests’ results,” he said.
According to a statement, issued by Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) on Friday, the Japanese grant will be utilised for procurement of equipment for the Regional Reference Laboratory for polio eradication.
With the procurement of state-of-the-art molecular-biology equipment including genetic analysers, real time PCR machines, incubators and freezers, among others, the laboratory will significantly enhance its sample processing capacity.
Through this new equipment, the Regional Reference Laboratory will speed up the results.
In 2017 alone, the Regional Reference Laboratory tested 30,000 stool samples and 950 environmental samples coming from both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
An agreement was signed by the representatives of the Government of Japan, Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) and World Health Organisation (WHO).
Ambassador of Japan to Pakistan Mr Takashi Kurai said: “Maintaining the strong polio surveillance system that has been established in Pakistan remains critical for eradication work. We are pleased to be a part of this initiative.
However, in order to eradicate polio altogether from Pakistan, it is not sufficient to promote vaccination activities. We should also address the unawareness of the matter among the people and the need for building up of the necessary infrastructure for enhancing the activities.”
Jica Pakistan Chief Representative Yasuhiro Tojo said: “I sincerely believe that through the concerted implementation of this grant aid, the polio surveillance system will progress across the provinces and districts. This will improve the routine immunisation situation in the country including polio that will help the government of Pakistan not only to eradicate polio but also to sustain polio-free Pakistan after eradication.”
© The DAWN Group of Newspapers